The prime minster has outlined the Tory plans for affordable homes in Colchester, Essex if they win the next election. He offers starter homes at a 20% discount by exempting builders from obligation to build social housing. This discount would be available on homes up to £250,000 outside London and £450,000 inside London. Already, 31,000 people have registered interest for the scheme in the four days since its website was launched.
Cameron pledged to solve Britain’s housing shortage at the same as protecting the green belt. He also claimed that the Conservatives would be building 200,000 homes a year by 2017, which is three years sooner than labour.
When it came to affordable homes, he promised to double the number of discounted starter homes for first time buyers. He said the developers would be able to afford to build 200,000 of these if they were exempted from requirements to build affordable housing and local infrastructure.
The Prime Minster also announced that Help to Buy would be extended to 2020, refuting the claims that the scheme would fuel a housing bubble. Help to Buy is a mortgage guarantee scheme for those with only 5% of a deposit – the government help with the other 20%.
Housing charity Shelter accused the prime minster of trying to solve an affordability crisis by getting rid of affordable housing, saying, “The 200,000 homes over the course of a parliament sounds good on the surface, but in reality this is giving with one hand and taking with the other.
“Removing the requirement on developers to build affordable housing is extremely worrying, and won’t help those currently struggling with sky-high housing costs.”
Interim chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Housing, Gavin Smart, said, “We are very concerned about these sites being exempt from section 106 agreements, which usually require social or affordable homes to be built as part of a development, for people on lower incomes ... Social housing is critical if we are going to solve the housing crisis – there are always going to be people who can’t afford to buy and we must provide decent, affordable homes for them too. If all the focus is on home ownership, we are never going to build mixed communities.”
Labour has criticised the Tories for being vague about how their targets would be achieved and paid for, accusing them of rushing their house-building plans before the election.